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Josh at The Big Half

It had been almost 2 months since my last competitive race, where I had run a 10k PB at Telford of 29:28. Since then training had gone really well, I had been on a successful warm weather training camp to Spain and was looking forward to what I was hoping would be a PB performance in London. The week of the race however we were faced with the #BeastFromTheEast where almost every race in the UK was cancelled as they were more suitable to cross-country skiing than fast racing. Training in the week of the race had to be altered a little as I was faced with temperatures as low as -7 without factoring in the wind-chill! Since I don’t own a treadmill, there was no other option but to wrap up warm and get the miles in. Whilst these kind of problems are not ideal, the best thing to do is adapt and improvise, it would have been easy to take a few days off, but who likes the easy option?

After having confirmation that the race was due to go ahead, it was time to travel up to London. Luckily my train had not been cancelled, so after a short trip to the station, I was finally on my way to London. I travelled up to the race with my Dad, who comes to watch every race. After arriving in Paddington, and negotiating a few tube journeys, I had finally arrived at the elite hotel where I was greeted by running legend Dave Bedford who helped check me in and provided me with my race credentials and numbers. After a few hours of relaxing, I went down for food with fellow athletes before turning in for the night at around 10pm.

With the race starting at 9am, it meant a very early start for me as a chowed down on my usual race day breakfast of rice, a banana and my Maurten sports drink. My alarm went at 4:30am and I proceeded with my usual pre-race routine; breakfast, watching youtube, shower to wake up, listening to music as I gear up more for the race. The elite athletes gathered downstairs at the hotel at 7am before being bussed to the start area. We were fortunately provided with a sports hall to warm up, and allowed to jog on the course. After a 15 minute jog, some light stretching and drills, we were assembled outside and told to make our way to the start line. After a few strides, we were lined up and the 3 big names, male and female (Mo Farah, Daniel Wanjiru, Callum Hawkins, Charlotte Purdue, Lily Partridge and Alyson Dixon) were introduced to the crowds. Standing on the start line in what seemed like mild conditions given the last few days was a big relief to both the runners and organisers after what must have been a stressful week for all involved.

The race started off at a fairly brisk pace for myself, getting to the 5k mark in 15:04, in a group with Matt Sharp, Tsegai Twelde and Ronald Schorer (Netherlands), we made up places 4-7th. The next 5km sections was far more technical than the first, as it twisted and turned around Canary Warf and the went over some cobbles as we made our way to the 10k marker which I passed through in 30:27. I was feeling good at this stage as we crossed Tower Bridge just passed the 7 mile mark. The next few kilometres were a bit more challenging as I was faced with a stiff headwind as we headed east towards our finish point at the Cutty Sark. As a result the pace had dropped a little and I wasn’t feeling quite as fresh as before. I hit the 10 mile mark in around 49:30 and still had another 3 athletes for company. They were quite reluctant to share the pace so I continued to push on as opposed to slowing down in attempt to make someone move forward. I thought its good practice to push the pace alone as I could have sections like this at the Gold Coast. After another tough last few kilometres, Jonny Mellor flew past our pack after running a very well-paced race, as my group were then in a race for positions 5-8th. After a quicker last kilometre I crossed the line in 7th position in a time equal to my personal bests.

After the race, I jogged a very slow 2 mile cool-down before a short walk back to the hotel where I had a shower and a bit to eat before some light reflection on how I thought the race went. I was happy with my position of 7th, and whilst I was hoping to run faster than 65 minutes, I was happy with the time on what was a slightly difficult course, and 6 weeks out from my big target, the Commonwealth Games Marathon.

After relaxing a little at the hotel, I made my way back to the last kilometre to cheer on some of the runners still coming in, I’m very grateful for support when I am running, so I thought they would be too. Shortly after that I made my way slowly back to Paddington on what were becoming increasingly tight legs. I finally arrived home at 7pm that night and pretty much went straight to bed.

I am now within 6 weeks to my marathon race day and am ready for the final push. I travel to Australia on March 12th for a 3 week holding camp at Sunshine Coast University, before travelling down to the athlete village on April 3rd, ready for my race on the 15th. Stay tuned for more content. Finally, well done to all of you who ran the Big Half, and good luck to all of you preparing for London or any other spring marathon!

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